Frank McCourt could beat Bud Selig, still have to sell Dodgers
The most interesting provision of the $130-million divorce settlement announced Monday by Frank and Jamie McCourt could be this one: If Frank has not paid Jamie in full by next spring, he has to put the team up for sale.
That assumes, of course, that the team still is his. If Commissioner Bud Selig gets his way, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court will order the Dodgers sold by year's end.
So where could Frank get $130 million?
If the court orders the Dodgers sold, Jamie would get the first $130 million of net proceeds. The debt load and tax liability in such a sale could be so high that the net proceeds do not exceed $130 million. That could leave Frank with nothing from the sale.
If the court permits Frank to auction the Dodgers' television rights, he could use $130 million from those proceeds to pay Jamie. If the court grants the auction but mandates the money be used only for the Dodgers, then Frank could try to sell a minority share in the team or some of the land surrounding Dodger Stadium. However, Selig almost certainly would oppose any such sale if the money were not put back into the Dodgers.
Frank also has promised to file a malpractice suit against Bingham McCutchen, the law firm responsible for the now-invalidated marital property agreement that would have provided him with sole ownership of the Dodgers. Whatever Frank wins from Bingham -- in a settlement or in court -- would be his to keep, unless he needs some of that money to fulfill his $130-million obligation to Jamie.
So the settlement essentially puts Frank on the clock. Even if he beats Selig in court, he can't promise to pay Jamie years down the road, from the proceeds of a lawsuit against Bingham. If Frank gets his television rights auction -- a big if, given the opposition of Selig and Fox Sports -- but cannot use that money for non-Dodgers purposes, he might want to settle with Bingham, and soon.
-- Bill Shaikin
Photo: Frank and Jamie McCourt. Credit: Mario Anzuoni / Reuters.